As Black History Month begins, MU students and staff celebrate the accomplishments of the Black community and learn about Black culture through events on campus.
The theme of Black History Month in 2020 is “Black Vote. Black Liberation.” To raise awareness of Black liberation, MU will host multiple events regarding this topic throughout February.
One of these events was a student forum on Feb. 5 featuring the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Andrew Michael Holness. The prime minister educated students and faculty on Jamaica’s history as a predominantly Black country as well as his political journey and the issues he’s addressed during his time in office.
As Black History Month begins at MU, Daive Dunkley, associate professor of Black Studies, encourages students to look at Black history from a more worldly perspective.
“I think what Black History Month does is remind us of the important challenges and accomplishments of the Black community around the world,” Dunkley said. “Black History Month may have started as an American thing, but it’s a global thing.”
By inviting guests like the prime minister to campus, he hopes to show Black students that they can succeed despite the challenges they might face.
“Your opportunities — what you can make of yourself in spite of your humble beginnings — [are] limitless,” Dunkley said.
Though Black History Month is only a month-long affair, sophomore Caleb Sewell invites students to learn about Black history outside of February. Sewell, a double major in Black studies and education, encourages all students at MU to take a Black studies class to broaden their perspective on history.
“It’s important because we get to see the different parts of history,” Sewell said. “We get to see the importance that Black people play in society and we also get to learn how to rectify social change and systems that exist. I feel that everybody should take it because you get a side of history that’s not often told in schools, but you're also getting to study something that's important to how society’s structured and shaped.”
Senior Te’ Hopkins also believes that everyone should learn about Black history, especially at a large university like MU.
“Black history is American history,” Hopkins said. “As students and just as young learners, we should be working … to constantly grow and change and challenge our perspectives.”
Along with the student forum, the Black Studies Department worked with the Department of English to plan a tribute to writer Toni Morrison which will celebrate her legacy on Feb. 13 from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
Additionally, Ellis Library is hosting a month-long exhibit examining 20th-century editorial cartoons about African-American voting rights. Joan Stack, curator of Art Collections at the State Historical Society of Missouri, will lecture about the exhibit on Feb. 19 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
MU’s Black History Month celebrations will culminate with the Student Center Takeover on Feb. 28 from 6 p.m. to midnight. The Legion of Black Collegians, along with other organizations on campus, will host games, entertainment, food and educational activities about Black culture.
For more information on additional Black History Month events, visit the MU Inclusion, Diversity and Equity website.
Edited by Sophie Stephens | firstname.lastname@example.org